Item description for The Gospel and the Greeks: Did the New Testament Borrow from Pagan Thought? (The Student Library) by Ronald H. Nash...
Overview Examines contemporary claims for Christian dependence on Hellenistic philosophy, Greco-Roman mystery religions, and gnosticism. He finds the case for dependence in the strong sense tenuous
Publishers Description Did early Christianity borrow any of its essential beliefs and practices from pagan religions and philosophies? No, answers the author of this compelling apologetic for the uniqueness of Christian teaching. Part 1 investigates possible influences of Hellenistic philosophy; part 2, of pagan mystery religions; and part 3, of Gnosticism. First released in 1992, The Gospel and the Greeks has been retypeset.
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Studio: P & R Publishing
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.48" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.69" Weight: 0.76 lbs.
Release Date Feb 1, 2003
Publisher P & R Publishing
Series Student Library
ISBN 0875525598 ISBN13 9780875525594
Availability 0 units.
More About Ronald H. Nash
Ronald H. Nash (PhD, Syracuse University) was professor of philosophy at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the author of numerous books, including The Concept of God and Faith and Reason.
Ronald H. Nash currently resides in Orlando, in the state of Florida.
Ronald H. Nash has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about The Gospel and the Greeks: Did the New Testament Borrow from Pagan Thought? (The Student Library)?
What is the purpose of this book? Dec 9, 2007
This is an acceptably-written book that aims to counter the view that (in a nutshell) Christianity is just a Greek religion superimposed onto Jesus. I agree, so far as that is concerned, and Nash demonstrates this to some extent. However, there are a couple of serious problems here.
First, his argumentation is very insular. He favorably quotes from a tiny group of scholars, few to none of whom are recognized authorities. I accept that he might want to quote his favorites because he likes them, but if he wants to talk about Plato then he should at least quote top Plato scholars alongside his many citations of Gordon Clark. (Nash also tends to cite his own work.) If his arguments hinge upon a huge reinterpretation of all Greek philosophy in addition to his discussions of the mystery religions and the New Testament, he's going to need a much stronger book; if he isn't banking on a reinterpretation of all Greek philosophy, he could just as easily quote from standard authorities, even if he goes on to recommend some other scholars as his favorites.
Second, it's not clear why this book was written. He's using century-old rebuttals to counter a century-old view, and the only inkling of contemporary relevance he offers us is that there are a couple of books written several decades ago from far outside the field of religious studies that assume this long-outdated position. But surely that's not particularly worth getting all worked up about.
There are relevant, contemporary debates that are related to his topic, however, and he should have written a book about them, incidentally addressing the issues of the present book if he so desired. The Jesus Seminar, for instance, is basically just reinterpreting Christianity in terms of Greek thought structures. If Nash wants to write a relevant book, he needs to talk about live issues, and he can't do it in so insular a way -- otherwise, instead of really engaging people, he's just going to contribute to a simplistic "us vs. them" mentality.
The Final Chapter on Jesus and the "Mystery" religions of the Greco-Roman World Nov 30, 2007
Nash's book is a solid and very helpful work on the subject of Christ and Christianity in light of the Greco-Roman culture in which it flourished. I stumbled upon this work after having seen the movie, the God Who Wasn't There because I had some questions concerning the similarity of Jesus and other gods from the "mystery" religions of the Greco-Roman world. Brian Flemming, the director of the documentary The God Who Wasn't There should have read up on the history of what he was speaking of before he made his movie because as Nash states, both liberal and conservative religious scholars believe this to be a dead issue with no merit. As someone who has a masters in theology, I appreciate Nash's thoroughness and honesty concerning the issues of Christ and the Greco-Roman world. I highly recommend this book and at the end of the day, the facts are the facts. Jesus was unique, Christianity did not create Him, and one must choose what they think of him.
don't confuse "faith", "truth", "mystery", and "influence" Aug 20, 2007
it seems reviewers want either better refutation or better balanced scholarship from this author. the cover is misleading as a balanced analysis of culture and traditional storytelling but it has a purely christian agenda. this book is to make you feel better about yourself if you've had the bible plunked into your lap from childhood and feel threatened with the slightest published alternative opinion. at least this author avoids treating the da vinci code as if it was the apex of modern scholarship. readers deserve more than fancy dancing around historical influences if they are to go to sleep confident. faith shouldn't revolve around scholarly history to soothe them. they believe what they are taught and historically accurate studies shouldn't bother them. what are the believers afraid of? this category of book should be totally unecessary because true scholarship is n a different realm against belief. look up the words "belief", "mystery", "truth", and "influence" and you'll see that they don't have the meaning you might put to them in the english yo now and use today. that's only type of objective scholarship that believers can make use of, learning the original meaning of words. Which brings to mind that fact that god, jesus, virgin, and lord are new words that lack any connection to language and meaning of biblical times. How many Americans think that jesus spoke english and would respond to the name jesus? Faith has to take you through historical fact unscathed. If you are threatened by historical fact then your faith needs work or you don't truly believe. If you truly believe then that fact that you look foolish to nonbelievers framing your faith as a historically accurate collection of events shouldn't bother you. Where's your confidence? This book gives you false confidence. Read better books on this topic from objective scholars and keep your religious dignity. Just stop comfusing faith with scholarly fact.
Respectfully, I digress!! Apr 12, 2007
Dr. Nash is a very smart, philosophically educated man, no doubt. ( I say this from reading his other book, Life's Ultimate Questions ) However, when it comes to the subject of this book, I think he has fumbled. I do think the basic assertion of the book is true, which is that the new testament writers were not copy cats from the ancient "mystery" religions and philosophies. However, Dr. Nash in this particular book, goes overboard in trying to deny any substantial similarities. To a partial extent, some of the themes and concepts of the new testament gospel are indeed found in greco-roman philosophies and "mystery religions", as well as greco-roman religion as well. These similarities are not strong enough to demand copying on the part of the new testament though. Suffice it to say that the new testament comes from a cultural milieu wherein that milieu was the mode of thinking and expression of those in that culture. The new testament writers did not write in a void, they wrote from the culture they were in and they wrote for others in that culture. Some of those ways of thinking were, therefore, used in expressing the unique truths of the gospel of Jesus. I think that Dr. Nash has tried too hard to protect the gospel from the attacks of pure skeptics who think that the gospel is nothing more than a product of it's time. I used to think along the lines of Dr. Nash as represented in this book of his, but upon actually reading the sources from ancient greco-roman antiquity, the evidence forced me to adjust my position a bit. The gospel writers had a unique message to be sure, but it was sometimes and in some ways expressed in the thought forms and langauge concepts of those times. In my estimation, Dr. Nash's book on this is a border line fundamentalist work. Although I will side with him against those who think the new testament gospel is simply a rip off of ancient "mystery religions". The truth is most likely somewhere in the middle. It's not a mere copy cat incident, but neither is it void of it's own cultural influence. The gospel of Jesus as taught in the new testament was merely sometimes expressed in some ways and in some degree, using the thought inherent in that culture.
Nash writes a compelling apologetic Feb 13, 2007
Ronald Nash has written over thirty books and taught theology at the seminary level during his long career as an educator and author. His book The Gospel and The Greeks is an apologetic against the ongoing scholarly theories that claim the writers of the New Testament borrowed from their surrounding pagan cultures when composing the letters and gospels of the New Testament. Each chapter presents the arguments for various pagan influences in the New Testament, and Nash's defense of the New Testament. Nash's thesis for the book is that the New Testament writers were not influenced by pagan thought when writing the New Testament. Nash's book reflects a great deal of research into both the arguments for and against the issue of pagan influence in the New Testament. Nash ends with thirty-one reference pages of works cited for the writing of this book. Nash's views are intelligent and insightful. His arguments are sound, and he gives the reader a brief overview of the Hellenistic culture. This book is intelligently written to the point that it serves as a good classroom textbook, but can also easily be read and understood by the general lay person. The book's introduction gives some very good insight into why Christian people should examine the arguments given by the opponents to Christianity. The Christian should "forthrightly test the alleged evidence" (Nash 14). Christians should not avoid such controversial topics, but should expose them for what they are--a misrepresentation of the truth. As Christian scholars, we are called to confront such controversy head on as to defend the faith, and this book helps to educate the readers to know what the opposing views are, and how weak those views really are once closely examined. Nash's approach to the subject is logical and reasonable. He discusses the arguments for and against Christianity's originality in an effective and intelligent manner. Even though he addresses area of Hellenistic thought, such as Platonism, Aristotelianism, and stoicism in brief, it is enough to support his arguments for the originality of Christianity, and spark the interest of the reader to further investigate the subject. For example, Nash gives a good argument against claims that Paul's mention of the "inner and outer man" in his second letter to the Corinthians was dependent on Platonism (2 Corinthians 4:16): The verse actually reads as follows, "There fore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day" (NIV). Quiet frankly, this hardly sounds like Platonism. Paul is using a very common form of speech, popular in his day (and now), to describe what could be obvious to many people totally uninformed about Platonism. Many people have felt their physical strength and health waning at the very time that they felt themselves growing stronger mentally or spiritually (Nash 50).
Nash's observation is exactly how the author of this paper interprets Paul's writing in the this passage, and is likely obvious to most readers--even though our bodies grow old, weak and sick we can still grow strong in faith. For the most part, Nash's arguments are sound. However, Nash does seem to contradict himself when approaching the subject of the Alexandrian Jewish work The Wisdom of Solomon as a mix of Platonism, Stoicism and the personification of Wisdom as found in the book of Proverbs. Nash states that "it was only natural that the importation of philosophical systems to Alexandria would eventually influence them (the Alexandrian Jews.)" Nash goes on to give the example of the Alexandrian Jewish intellectual Philo Judaeus' work as an example of "how intellectual Jews of the Dispersion, isolated from Palestine and their native culture, allowed Hellenistic influences to shape their theology and philosophy"(Nash 72). This statement tends to weaken Nash's thesis that the New Testament writers were not influenced by the culture and philosophies so pervasive in their time. Let the reader not forget that most of the New Testament writers were Jewish. The problem thickens when confronted with the fact that Paul, a contemporary of Philo, was himself a Diaspora (and some even argue a Hellenistic) Jew from Tarsus. Could one not make this same argument against Paul and his writings? Nash even later claims that the writer of the book of Hebrews is an Alexandrian Jew (Nash 252). While, overall the book is excellent, and is worthy of recommendation, Nash fails the readers when he does not fully confront the issue of the Alexandrian Jews.